First I tried the monster spray, where I put water and some scent into a spray bottle to be used to spray the room where the monster might be and that was to keep it away. Next I tried the protector stuffed animal. I just found a stuffed animal that he had never seen before and told him it was a protector and that he could take it with him anywhere in the house and it would protect him. None of these things helped.
Then one day I was really frustrated that he wouldn't go into the bathroom by himself and I said that I would let him get something to eat at the movies when we went the next day, if he would go in the bathroom by himself. Somehow, he was able to turn off the fear and go in alone. I tried something similar on a few other occasions and it also seemed to work.
I didn't want to have to keep coming up with bribes for him so I came up with a tally system where he could put a mark down each time he was scared and was able to go anyway. He could get a small toy for 50 marks or forgo that for a larger toy at 100 marks. It seemed to work well, but a reward system goes against the way I really want to do things so I decided to consult my local online attachment parenting group and see what they thought about all this.
Right off the bat I noticed that others had children with a similar type problem, though maybe not quite so extreme. Some said my system seemed good since it was putting this in his hands by allowing him to do the tallying and having him be in control. But another mom commented on how rewards systems do not really work long term since they don't really get to the core of the problem. You can check out Alfie Kohn and his book Unconditional Parenting for more information on this.
I tried to say this was a bit different because it seemed like this was a mess up in his brain. But it was pointed out that this is just who he is right now and that he was not broken and did not need fixing. He needed my unconditional support. It is okay that he wants to be around others when he moves through life. Why is this a problem? And to stop viewing him as broken. This tugged at my heartstrings which means I knew she was right. I finally understood that I was not being supportive of his needs.
I have since decided that there is nothing wrong with my son. If he wants to have someone with him when he goes places, then that is what he wants/needs. I talked with him and let him know that there are other kids just like him out there that also like to have someone with them when they go places and that it is okay and there is nothing wrong with this. I do hope that someday he will be able to go places in the house by himself, but until then, he will have my unconditional support.
Of course, he was not happy about not continuing with the tally sheet because he wanted that toy. Not sure how I will remedy that one, lol.